On paper, the New York Giants have a much-improved roster on both sides of the ball, but there will be weaknesses they have to iron out and refine as the season goes on. A rebuild takes time, and the Giants are currently in the middle of one.
General manager Dave Gettleman made it a priority to fix the offensive line once and for all, but nothing is set in stone despite spending the fourth overall pick on Andrew Thomas. Nate Solder, who played left tackle for the Giants in 2019, struggled immensely, allowing 11 sacks, which ranked third-worst in the NFL. Improving this unit is essential, but there is one player that could explode in 2020 with new talent around him.
The New York Giants are expecting big things from Will Hernandez:
Left guard Will Hernandez is the player I’m referencing. He is going into the third year on his rookie deal, and it is fair to say that Hernández had a sophomore slump in 2019. The cohesion in the trenches is extremely important in protecting the quarterback and opening running lanes for Saquon Barkley. The unit last year ranked in the below-average category, failing to block at a high-level and pick up stunts efficiently consistently.
Hernandez wasn’t given any help, as Solder struggled the entire season and center Jon Halapio gave up the fifth-most pressures out of all centers and ranked 36th and run-blocking, per PFF. Due to the inadequacies around him, Hernandez ranked 33rd in pass blocking and 117th as a run blocker last season. His rookie campaign was much better, but the expectations weighing on his shoulders last year got the best of him.
Despite his deficiencies, Hernandez has the strength and speed to pull in the run-game and hunker down in the pass-game. He is a tough lineman with a mean streak, exactly what Gettleman is looking for his players.
Aside from a lack of talent, the Giants’ offensive line was out-schemed frequently by opposing defensive coordinators. Delayed blitzes and a variety of unpredictable sets put Jones under pressure quickly and collapsed running lanes before they even developed.
Regarding Hernandez, there’s a ton to like, as a strength and mobility stand out. He plays with solid leverage, and he’s decent in the mental game. There’s always room for improvement, and Hernandez will be working this off-season to refine his fundamentals and adapt to the new offensive scheme laid out by Jason Garrett. New offensive line coach Marc Colombo will have a great time with Hernandez, as he contains all of the intangible traits the former Cowboy did when featured as a player.
I believe he can be a staple on the line for many years to come, and 2020 should give us a good idea of what he’s capable of.